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Zoning request denied for correction facility

| Thursday, July 14, 2005

Dennis Barkley breathed a sigh of relief when the Fayette Zoning Hearing Board rejected a zoning change Wednesday that would have allowed a personal care home in German Township to convert to a minimum-security correction facility.

"It was scary for all of us," Barkley said after the board denied the request of Edythe Shipley, of Vanderbilt.

Shipley, owner of May Day, on Sunshine Hollow Road, quickly left the meeting room without comment after the decision.

At an earlier zoning board meeting, Thelma Hartman, an administrator at May Day, told the hearing board that the building has 30 bedrooms that could fit up to four beds each, nine bathrooms and three dining rooms that could accommodate between 60 and 120 inmates.

According to Hartman, nonviolent offenders, such as individuals convicted of drunken driving charges or misdemeanors, could be housed at the correction facility. Hartman said the inmates would have been required to find employment while staying at the facility.

A former state police officer and police chief were to supervise security guards and periodically test residents for traces of drugs or alcohol, Hartman said.

That caused concern for nearby residents such as Barkley, who lives on a 10-acre property next door.

"My wife and I live here alone," he said, expressing concern that inmates might not have received adequate supervision. Zoning board Director Mark Morrison and board member James Killinger did not offer reasons for their decision to deny Shipley's request.

Barkley estimated that previous hearings were attended by up to 80 residents. That contrasted with about 10 people at yesterday's hearing.

The zoning change would have been the first of many steps in a lengthy process that would have included requesting certification by the state Department of Corrections and recognition by Fayette County as a correctional facility.

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